MP polls: A divided Congress hopes for a miracle
MP polls: A divided Congress hopes for a miracle
Congress hopes are pinned around tickets distribution, dissidents backing off, BJP facing dissidents and anti-incumbency.

Bhopal: Die hard Congress supporters in Madhya Pradesh are still hopeful that something drastic would happen between now and November 25 when the state votes to elect a new Assembly. These hopes are pinned around the possibility of right distribution of tickets, possible realisation amongst dissidents that if it is not now the fortunes of the party could well follow the Uttar Pradesh and Bihar trajectory, that the BJP would not be able to manage its dissidents and anti-incumbency at the same time and finally the Congress campaign will pick up momentum as the polling date draws closer.

Twenty-five days is a long time and nothing can be completely ruled out but the way things are unfolding not many are willing to put their money on the Congress.

Ticket distribution at the moment is the most contentious issue for the Congress. All satraps are claiming that only their candidates can win. Madhya Pradesh Congress president Kanti Lal Bhuria has already had a showdown with Kamal Nath and campaign committee chief Jyotiraditya Scindia. He wants his candidates from the tribal dominated belt to get the tickets but Nath and Scinida are in no mood to concede.

Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijaya Singh is operating back stage but Bhuria and Congress Legislature Party leader in the present Vidhan Sabha Ajay Singh are there to voice his concerns. Bhuria has already demonstrated the force with which these concerns can be addressed.

Digvijaya Singh, according to many the most hated figure in Madhya Pradesh politics, voluntarily announced not to contest election for 10 years when Uma Bharti dethroned him in 2003. The self imposed exile now is over but the Raja is not keen on getting back to Madhya Pradesh politics.

He is pushing his son from Raghogarh but the BJP misses no opportunity in posing the challenge - a look and discussion on 10 years of Digvijaya Singh vs 10 years of BJP. The only way Digvijays Singh could have accepted this BJP challenge was by taking it head on and plunging himself into the electoral fray.

The Congress has nothing to counter the BJP on this front and the people of the state too will find it difficult to trust the party whose backstage manoeuvring is being done by a two-term chief minister who chose to shift base from the state after his defeat instead of battling it out on the streets.

The unity show by all Congress satraps in the state at the behest of the party high command did have some initial impact. Large crowds turned out for rallies and road shows in Vidisha, Raisen and Indore but much of it was managed by ticket hopefuls. These ticket hopefuls are the potential dissidents who appear in no mood to keep the party's interest before their own.

Congressmen in private conversations accept that it is a now or never situation for the party. Fifteen years is a long-long time for any party worker. For how long can one actually wait?

The examples of UP and Bihar where the Congress has not been able to stage a comeback after getting ousted are helplessly cited but this is having little impact on the ticket seekers many of whom, for themselves see this as a last chance. In a conflict of interest between self and party, self is likely to take precedence.

The BJP has very cleverly turned it into a Shivraj Singh Chouhan vs Congress battle. Chouhan whose personal ratings are still in the ascendency is hoping to counter the anti-incumbency against his non performers by denying them tickets.

The party has already made up its mind to deny tickets to almost 50 sitting MLAs and a couple of ministers. The BJP too faces the dissidence problem but Chouhan has so far ensured that no senior leader is able to manoeuvre them back stage. He is keeping the announcement of tickets till the very end thus hoping the dissidents will not get the time to upset his calculations. He has also opened up communication channels with the likes of Raghavji who have been shown the door by the party but still possess the potential to damage.

Raghavji, the former finance minister, who was made to resign from the state cabinet after his domestic help levelled charges of sodomy against him, was spotted at the Chief Minister's house on Wednesday. Raghvaji is seeking a ticket for his daughter and Shivraj at least is willing to listen.

Issues of corruption against Chouhan and his ministers are likely to be raised as the Congress tries to build its campaign momentum but how far they will stick depends upon the internal management of Congress satraps. And if the Congress satraps are not managed nothing drastic is likely to happen between now and November 25.

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